2012’s MMO Games Hits and Misses: Year-End Summary

With 2013 fast approaching it’s time to take a look at the year that was in MMO games. What happened to the MMO gaming industry in 2012? Here’s a look back at the bestselling MMORPGs and new releases.

Bestfreemmorpg2013.com Website Launched

Our first post was all about the upcoming MMORPGs that are expected to be released in 2013. We also have a monthly list of the best free MMORPGs of 2013.

Free-to-Play MMORPGs in 2012

war of angels

New MMORPG War of Angels Screenshot

The following f2p MMORPGs were released in 2012 and have had some success with attracting a good community of players:

Of course, this is not the full list of all the new MMOs, just the ones we play and recommend.

An Unexpected Blockbuster Game

league of legends - elise

Elise, one of the heroes of League of Legends

The concept of the game is simple: two teams are formed and they fight each other with some “creeps” (AI-controlled mobs). Whichever team destroys the others’ structure (called the Nexus) wins. This is the same type of gameplay as Aeon of Strife, a custom map for StarCraft that also inspired the hugely popular Defense of the Ancients (DotA) mod for Warcraft III.

2012 saw the rise in popularity of the DotA clone League of Legends, now recognized as the most played PC game of 2012, beating out World of Warcraft (WoW).


Overall, in 2012 f2p made great strides in the genre, with more new titles released that are free-to-play from the start. Then there are the other games – those that were built for a pay-to-play model then converted to f2p.

The Most Expensive Video Game of All Time Goes F2P



Since World of Warcraft was first released in 2004 it has dominated the p2p MMO market. 2012 saw the release of a new MMORPG that many believed could be the only real challenge to WoW’s dominance. First announced in 2008, Star Wars: The Old Republic reportedly had an astonishing $300 million budget, possibly making it the most expensive video game ever made. To put that into perspective, the first Iron Man film had a $140 million budget. Grand Theft Auto IV is estimated to have cost $100 million to develop.

So with Star Wars: The Old Republic’s huge budget players could expect only the best graphics, sound and polished gameplay, with lots of cool extras like every quest being fully voiced. There was huge publicity and hype surrounding its release. Right after launch the game had a record number of sales. With 2 million copies sold and over 1.7 million active subscribers, one would think that SWTOR is a massive success.

However, these days players are quite reluctant to fork out $40-60 for a game and then continue to pay the monthly subscription fee. Although SWTOR is a very good MMO, it simply wasn’t innovative enough to compete with all of the other very good MMOs that are free-to-play. Thus, the most expensive game ever produced is now free-to-play. Where exactly did SWTOR go wrong? Here is an analysis that we think is right on target.

What Did Go Right: No Monthly Fees for Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 - The Best Selling Game of 2012

Guild Wars 2 – The Best Selling Game of 2012

In other news, Guild Wars 2 (GW2) was released and sold 2 million copies two weeks after launch. It’s currently the number 1 Best Seller in PC adventure games on Amazon. Link: Guild Wars 2 on Amazon.

Guild Wars 2 is not free but there is no monthly fee involved. You just buy the game and then you can play it as much as you like.

The critical and player response to the game has been overwhelmingly positive. It straddles the divide between free-to-play (where players often complain about the cash shop) and pay-to-play (where the monthly fees turn off people from playing) in a very intelligent way.

Check out the Amazon link above where there are tons of reviews from real players who have bought the game – no fakes or paid reviews.


Overall, 2012 has been yet another good year for MMO players. Lots of great new MMORPGs were released. League of Legends captured the number one spot as the most played PC game. SWTOR did not do as well as expected but Guild Wars 2 emerged as one of the best-selling PC games this year.